The Five Best Exercises You Can Do

Starting a fitness routine can be intimidating – especially if you are older, overweight or haven’t exercised for a while. The goal of exercising at least half an hour each day, with two days of strength training, can seem distant and impossible.

But there are things you can do that will help you get there. Here, from the experts at Harvard Medical School, who have written a special report on exercise, Exercise: A Program you can live with, are five of the best exercises you can do:


According to the experts at Harvard Medical School, swimming is especially good for people with arthritis because it takes pressure off your joints so you can move them more easily. Like many other exercises, swimming can reduce stress and help with your mood. The Harvard experts also suggest water aerobics. They can help you tone up and burn calories.

Tai Chi

This routine, which originated in China, involves both movement and relaxation. The Harvard experts say it’s good for body and mind. Tai chi classes come in different levels, so you can tailor your learning experience appropriately. Tai chi helps to maintain balance, which is essential to both fitness and quality of life.

Strength Training

You won’t bulk up with strength training, which involves lifting weights. Instead, the Harvard experts say, you will increase muscle tone and burn calories. Lifting light weights is just fine, but it’s essential that you learn to do the exercises properly. (Editor’s note: Before starting, ask your doctor about the appropriate weight and program for you.)


No equipment required, but the benefits can be enormous: according to the Harvard experts, it can help you manage your weight and cholesterol levels, contribute to bone strength, stabilize blood pressure and even improve your mood. It also can lower your risk for diabetes and heart disease. Some studies, they say, have even shown that this activity can improve your memory and help resist memory loss related to age. Make sure you’ve got a good pair of walking shoes – ones that fit you well and provide adequate support. Consult with your doctor about the distance and frequency of your walking program.

Kegels are most often associated with women, but men can do them, too, the Harvard experts say. The help improve the pelvic-floor muscles that support the bladder, and that can help prevent incontinence.  Kegels involve squeezing and releasing the muscles you use to prevent you from urinating or passing gas. Squeeze quickly and release, alternating that with longer squeezes of 10 seconds. Try working up to three sets of 10-15 Kegels daily.

For additional information on this and other questions about getting started on a healthy exercise program, buy a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School, Exercise: A program you can live with